I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, an overcomer of grief and loss, who struggles with food addiction and unhealthy self-reliance, and my name is Teri.
I come from a Christian home with wonderful parents, and I remember well my first encounter with godly conviction and recognizing my need for Jesus. That was the first day I remember asking Jesus to forgive me and telling Him I would love Him forever. Though I strayed away from my faith during my teens, His love wouldn’t let me go, and I’ve now been walking with Jesus for 42 years.
For many years I lived out my walk with Jesus, believing that God gave me a sound mind, and therefore He expected me to be independent and use my head to figure things out. I relied on my knowledge and abilities to solve my problems. Though I would say the words, “I need you, God,” I meant I needed Him to forgive me and to get me to Heaven, but I didn’t really need Him in my day-to-day living. I was self-sufficient. When problems arose, whether in marriage or parenting, my first go-to was always a self-help book. There’s nothing wrong with gleaning godly wisdom from others, but Jesus, the wisest of all, was usually my last resort. Why pray when I can do something more practical? This way of living seemed to work for quite a few years anyway.
But the façade came crumbling down when a family member began struggling with drug addiction. My desperation to fix her was digging a hole beneath me, and I was sinking further and further into a dark place of turmoil. None of my know-how was enough to save her or create the peace I longed for. This was when I was introduced to Celebrate Recovery. I remember so well that first night, the first time I read the first four words of Principle 1, “Realize I’m not God…. “and I got stuck right there. I had been acting as my own God for all these years and denying Jesus His rightful place in my life.
I’ve been at Celebrate Recovery for 11 years now and have worked through so many recovery areas, and experienced growth I didn’t know was possible. It’s often difficult to find the words to express my gratitude. During this season of growth, my husband began to suffer a series of health crises, one after another, and then suddenly, after 42 years of marriage, I lost him to death. This month marks three years without him. Losing him was devastating for me. I was certain that God was going to heal him. I WAS CERTAIN!
His death crushed me, and even worse, it threatened my faith in God, the very One who was my only hope. Principle 2 says, “Earnestly believe God exists, that I, [my grief and loss and hopelessness and loss of faith] matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.” This principle had been instrumental in the early stages of my recovery, and after losing my husband, it was often the only thread that kept me connected to Jesus.
Like flour is the main ingredient in hundreds of different dishes that all look and taste different, so can it be with recovery. Sometimes, we work on a hurt, habit, or hang-up, and after time we seem to master the recipe of recovery, and then when we aren’t looking, life throws in some new ingredients, and there we are back to the same area of struggle; it just looks and tastes different. I’m so thankful for the many Celebrate Recovery tools that were instrumental as I continued to attend and rebuild my faith while healing from my loss. I began to recognize my husband’s illnesses were the new ingredients that messed with my recovery recipe. My desire for him to be healed and to live had taken first place in my life. My self-reliance had come back around as I continually obsessed over his symptoms, diet, and medications. There was not a moment of being still and knowing that God was in control. I depended on MY prayers to coerce God to perform a miracle. Yes, prayer is powerful. Yes, God expects us to pray with boldness and fervor. And yes, God is still in the miracle business, but there’s a big difference between trusting in my prayers and trusting the One I was praying to. Jesus’ prayer in the garden is our example; “Father, if it is possible… nevertheless, not my will but yours.”
I long for intimacy with Jesus, but I also long for independence. I long to know His will, and I too long to plan my will. I would love it if the first thought on my mind each morning would be of Jesus, but this is not always the case. Paul puts it so well in Romans chapter 7, (MSG) “I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.”
While navigating this new life without my partner and best friend, I sometimes find myself, again, trying to figure it all out on my own and then wonder, where is God’s peace? I need to remind myself, again, it’s only when I admit I’m powerless. It’s my relationship with, and reliance on, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that makes possible the peace He’s promised.
Principle 1, Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.